Taking Byron’s soft, vulnerable original and meshing a chilled, low-end trap beat to it takes ‘So Naive’ to another place entirely – conjuring a glassy, placid effect on an already distinguished track from a truly innovative new artist. Listen here
A gorgeous melody and a curiously warm, vulnerable vocal sit upon flighty, glitchy electronic instrumentals with flecks of East African guitar; a nod to Byron’s return to his native Uganda where he took traditional music lessons from Albert Ssempeke – one of the last royal Ugandan musicians playing traditional Baganda Music before the rise of Idi Amin who would outlaw it – now playing with the Owiny Sigoma Band signed to Brownswood Recordings.
This important background helps to understand what emerges with ‘So Naïve’ – a production and instrumental that compellingly mixes this legacy with experimental time signatures and soul music – a new iteration of the soul genre that Byron terms Noir Wave.
Incorporating phrasing and rhythms adapted from his time learning music in East Africa, Byron conjures a metropolitan cynicism with a gloriously freeform electronic base.
Speaking on the track, Byron states: “I wanted to work with guitarist Greg Sanders (Royal Academy) for a while, so when I started the album process with producer George Bird, we dragged him in to lay down parts on songs we were developing. He’s the only guitarist I know who’s rearranged Nirvana tunes into soul, but is also a traditional and contemporary African music virtuoso. ‘So Naïve” is about innocence, frailty, trepidation and daydreaming. It kinda sums me up.”
Byron’s influences and music live in a resurgent lane of western musicians exploring global music: Tune Yards, Petite Noir, Vampire Weekend. With this soaringly inventive and beautiful first offering, Byron cements his new sound and status as a searing new talent.